philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Octi Launches The World’s First Augmented Reality Social Network

Built on cutting-edge, patented technology and tested with thousands of high school students across Southern California, Octi provides the most exciting vision of our augmented reality future to date.

Imagine pointing your phone's camera at a friend and instantly seeing their social profile floating around them on-screen, including their favorite YouTube videos, Spotify songs, and personal photos, along with an overlay of fun effects and stickers. Octi does exactly that, making in-person interaction the foundation for connecting on the network.

To accomplish this vision, the company raised a total of $12 million from the world's leading investors, brands, and consumer technology executives, including Live Nation, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Peter Diamandis' Bold Capital Partners, Human Ventures, I2BF, Tom Conrad, Rich Greenfield, Scott Belsky, and Josh Kushner.

"Octi is a unique mobile app that actually encourages its users to interact with each other in real life, in an era where technology has made it far too easy to avoid in-person relationships," said Rich Greenfield, partner at LightShed Partners and noted social media analyst.

"Octi is the first company I've seen that has created a compelling, AR-native framework for social interaction, one based on cutting-edge technology and far-sighted insights into how we'll communicate with each other in the coming years," said Tom Conrad, the Chief Product Officer of Quibi and former VP of Product for Snap.

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The 5 Biggest Virtual And Augmented Reality Trends In 2020 Everyone Should Know About

Industrial use outpaces gaming and entertainment

XR takes off in healthcare

Headsets get smaller, more mobile and more powerful

5G opens new possibilities for VR and AR

More of us will learn through VR and AR

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Clearview AI shows government needs to be agile in making tech regulation: experts

d7374070-3e11-11ea-bae7-633251ce01b9Privacy and tech experts say that governments must be agile in creating laws to protect their citizens from ethically dubious applications of artificial intelligence (AI).

On January 18, The New York Times reported that a company called Clearview AI is working with hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the U.S., including the F.B.I.

The company allows users to take a picture of a person, and if the photo matches a face in its three billion image database, it can potentially provide information like names, addresses and other details.

The three billion photos are harvested from Facebook, Venmo, YouTube, and other sites.

Ann Cavoukian, former information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, said in an interview that none of the images that were harvested were obtained with the consent of users and “law enforcement should know better.”

...“We should have started years ago, we haven’t; so fine, let’s start now,” she said, adding that other jurisdictions in the U.S., like San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. have banned the use of facial recognition by law enforcement.

“AI right now is just snake oil, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon,” she said. “There’s been billions of dollars poured into AI, so many startups that say ‘this is powered by AI’ but we haven’t necessarily seen the great… breakthrough. The power isn’t necessarily artificial intelligence, but that it is still built upon the infrastructure of a decade or more of data collection by other companies.”

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Cooper becomes world’s first hospital to use new virtual reality system for stroke patients

Virtual_Reality_cooper.2e16d0ba.fill-735x490California-based medical device producer Penumbra worked closely with a team of physicians and therapists at the Cooper Neurological Institute to develop a program for use of the REAL Immersive System.

The new VR system displays and tracks upper-extremity rehabilitation in interactive exercises for adult stroke patients. In a variety of virtual environments, patients are able to adjust their view simply by looking around. Hand controllers enable patients to move their avatar and interact with the virtual world.

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Explore the TikTok features that make it the most habit-forming social app out there

im-146619It’s time you understood TikTok, if only to grasp how much power these addictive algorithms have over our lives. It’s also worth asking how easily a happy-go-lucky TikTok could become a scary-as-hell TikTok, without so much as a tweak to its design.

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Disney Movies to Be Adapted as Immersive Experiences by Secret Cinema

c_secret_cinema_-_mike_massaro_839-h_2020The first show is due to premiere in London later this year. However, the deal also calls for Secret Cinema to expand across the pond, with experiences being planned for Los Angeles and New York. More global expansion could occur beyond that.

Secret Cinema is a unique and immersive movie-screening series that, as the company touts, revolutionizes the way people experience a film. Fusing film with live music, art, theater and dance, Secret Cinema creates elaborate authentic worlds where the movie’s story lives and breathes, placing the audience at the heart of the action and bringing the story to life.

The company converts huge spaces into movie worlds where actors play out storylines and hero moments each night of the production. Audiences participate by becoming part of the show and story, from the moment they buy a ticket to when they are assigned a character and are transported into the preshow narrative. Filmgoers step into the world of the movie, becoming their character, and uncover secret storylines and participate as if they were inside the film itself.

"Working with The Walt Disney Studios is much more than access to a treasure trove of titles, it’s about bringing together a unique combination of skills and expertise to build ever more authentic and amazing experiences, raising the bar again for what we mean by ‘immersive cinema,’” said Secret Cinema CEO Max Alexander.

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Skydiving, kayaking, fly fishing: Virtual reality therapy is taking paralyzed veterans to new places

veteranLast summer, the St. Louis VA began integrating into therapy for patients with paralysis. Much more than a cool diversion or entertainment, it's a useful tool in helping patients cope and encouraging them to lead active lives.

"You can look down and see your feet. It's like you are standing on a pier fishing. Everything looks right. When you move, it feels like you are walking down the pier," Erbe said. "You really feel like, oh my god, I'm going too fast or I'm going too far."

Patients can box, learn tai chi, shoot a bow and arrow, and even feel like they are reeling in a big fish.

"We can have a veteran in a funk, where their life has drastically changed, and show them that just because things are different, doesn't mean you can't do this or do that. It's still possible," Luitjohan said. "It just takes adaptations."

New therapeutic programs designed for virtual reality not only can help with pain management and behavioral therapy, but also have the capability of measuring things such as reaction time, range of motion and cognitive function to determine whether patients are progressing.

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Bay Area virtual reality amusement boldly goes to the next level

"Star Trek Discovery: Away Mission" puts players in the role of Starfleet officials who must battle strange creatures and Klingons during an investigation. (Sandbox VR)

"Star Trek Discovery: Away Mission" puts players in the role of Starfleet officials who must battle strange creatures and Klingons during an investigation. (Sandbox VR)

Sandbox, which also has a space in San Mateo, is one of several companies attempting to take cutting-edge virtual-reality technology and boldly go in a more ambitious, visually stunning, full-body direction while developing a new genre of entertainment.

“A lot of people tend to think that VR is just putting on a headset and watching a movie at home or seeing a game play out in front of you while you have a controller in your hand,” says Susan Washburn, store manager for San Francisco’s Sandbox VR. “We’re making it not only more immersive, but interactive with other people.”

The Void operated a pop-up space in the Atrium at Westfield San Francisco Center late last summer and plans to open a permanent venue there soon.

Our adventure began in a spacious, gray room that instantly transforms into an icy alien planet. Clad in special gear, we (and our avatars) assume the roles of Starfleet officers who are directed to investigate a distress signal. Mission accepted, naturally.

The experience lasts about 30 minutes, during which we are “beamed” to various locales and face off against one menacing threat after another. Along the way, we use tricorders to scan our whereabouts and hunt for clues. Enhancing the immersive enterprise are haptic vests that pulsate during the “teleportation” process.

Sandbox VR, which is open daily at San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center at 60 E. 31st Ave. and a San Francisco pop-up at 767 Market St. Tickets are $48 per person.

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Mastercard seeks loyalty in augmented reality

90-3The card brand is using augmented reality to provide its own “photorealistic” experience through a series of interactive portals.

TD Ameritrade and Fidelity deployed the technology to add detail to wealth management, while RBC uses AR to add content to gift cards.

Mastercard's rewards AR app prompts users to scan their card to start a session, then prompts consumers to use their phone to scan the area around them. In front of their surroundings, consumers see portals such as “experiences,” “everyday value,” or “peace of mind.”

The visuals on the phone's screen correspond to the portal — peace of mind is a spa, and everyday value is a home.. A set of golf clubs results in information about golf-related incentive marketing.

There are also partner brands, such as Lyft, Fandango and Postmates, though the brands are not involved in the design of the 360 degree virtual images. Fandango, for example, would appear as a film reel with movies, offers and benefits.

Mastercard plans to launch the AR rewards app for iPhones in the second quarter, with other platforms to follow.

"As AR takes off in lower risk areas, look for enabling payments…being able to not only receive a discount but being able to pay for the product or service at the same time.”

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China’s video sharing app TikTok expands in Culver City

90-2TikTok, a video sharing service, said Wednesday that it is expanding its U.S. operations in Culver City.

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, said its new Culver City office has a capacity for around 1,000 employees and will provide more space for its growing U.S. team. The company was previously in a temporary office in Culver City.

The company has received acclaim for generating a big audience for influencers but also has drawn scrutiny over whether it censors content that may not be favorable to the Chinese government. Branches of the U.S. military have banned its members from using TikTok, following concerns that the app’s ties with China could pose a security risk.

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